An important part of our job as journalists is the ability to be nimble, to pick up and go at a moment’s notice and get somewhere quickly.
This requires reliable transportation, which we know isn’t feasible for every single employee or intern on their own.
Gannett, IndyStar’s parent company, has taken multiple steps that have made this harder for everyone.
The company saddled hardworking journalists with fees for the office parking garage even as they were barred from working in the office for 17 months, while fire-hosing two Chief Financial Officers with more than $1.7 million in bonuses.
And those who are now returning to the office face yet another transportation challenge: The company stripped IndyStar of its vehicles that staff who walk or bike to work could use during the work day to get to assignments or breaking news quickly.
In the same breath, CEO Mike Reed told his employees this in a July 2020 email: “It’s critically important that we manage our expenses conservatively through the pandemic, enabling us to position our business for greater success as the economy rebounds.”
Why can’t they give us, their bottom line, what amounts to a drop in the bucket?
That’s why earlier this month, members of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild filed expense reports for what we’ve paid in unnecessary parking expenses over the course of the pandemic. Our members who walk or bike to work or were recently hired filed reports requesting a penny to show solidarity.
In total, we filed at least $13,340 in parking expenses. Those bonuses paid to Gannett executives could have paid for that 127 times over.
And without the company vehicles, we have members who will have to take expensive Ubers or be forced to pay the costly parking fees to have a personal vehicle on-site, once we are required to return to the office full time.
Obviously, transportation is just one issue of many we’re fighting as we continue contract negotiations. But we feel it’s important not to let the company off the hook when they needlessly nickel-and-dime the very employees whose work they’ve praised endlessly during a once-a-century catastrophe.
But, unlike the combined salaries, stock options and bonus payouts to two CEOs, talk is cheap. It’s time for Gannett to support its journalists.
Read our letter to IndyStar and Gannett leadership, sent September 16, 2021: